Majority of Americans can't swim to save their lives, can you? - WRBL

Majority of Americans can't swim to save their lives, can you?

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Learning to swim might seem like a rite of passage at community pools, swim clubs and summer camps for many people — but more than half the adults in the United States don't even know how.

That, according to the Red Cross, means 54 percent of all Americans, either miss out on the pleasure of a summer plunge into cool waters— or they endanger themselves when they try. The Red Cross also found that while it may keep some people out of the water, many more perceive themselves as capable even though they lack basic swimming skills.

About 3,600 deaths are attributed to drowning each year, deaths that are largely preventable. As it launches a campaign to reduce drownings, the Red Cross is raising awareness about what basic swimming skills are.

The definition of water competency includes:

1. Being able to swim 25 yards to exit the water.

2. Being able jump in over your head.

3. Exiting a pool without using a ladder.

4. Floating or treading water for one minute.

5. Making a full circle in the water to find an exit.

The telephone survey, which polled 1,011 adults over the age of 18, also revealed that 93 percent of folks could not identify the proper steps for helping someone who is drowning.

The study also revealed that only 32 percent of African Americans have taken swimming classes, a low number in comparison to 49 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of whites.

Another interesting, little known fact is that water wings are not sufficient for keeping children safe in the water. The study revealed 67 percent of adults thought the popular flotation devices could keep a child from drowning.

For more safety tips visit www.redcross.org.

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